Friday, 24 July 2015

Magnificent Margins

Early summer is one of my favourite times on the farm when the hard work of the year, on so many levels, starts to pay off.  The ears of wheat and barley, the pods on the oilseed rape are starting to fill up and the countryside springs into life with a fantastic display of colours and different species. There is no doubt that we live in a sculpted and managed environment.  People are quick to forget this point and since the first settlers began turning their back on nomadic life, our landscape has become man made.
We must not loose sight of the fact that we need to create space for wildlife and mother nature in our very groomed landscape.  We need to create space for our insects to breed and in turn become food for birds.  The space can be populated by flowers adding to our enjoyment of our surroundings and we should take time out to appreciate these wonders.
Our field margins, that we cultivated last autumn are a wonderful mix of poppies, cornflowers and are alive with insects.  There are so many skylarks that tripping over them is almost a certainty!  They are nesting the wheat and barley crops in the purposely sprayed out skylark plots as well as the rough grassland periodically grazed by our sheep.  The diversity of the landscape is what makes it so special.  This must all be done in addition to providing safe, healthy and profitable crops that are wanted by our customers.  Growing wheat that ends up in Kellogg's Cereals as part of the origins group really enables a connection between farmers and customers, a connection we are proud to support.
We have also planted specific pollinator mixes around some of the oilseed rape field margins which are delivering huge benefits in terms of food supply for insects.  Mixtures of crimson clover, phacelia, daisy's and other annual flowers have been a great addition to the work we are doing on the farm to improve diversity of beneficial species and create a better habitat for us all to live and work in.